Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Paperstand (AAPL, EBAY, WEN)

The WSJ reports that Citigroup (C) is in advanced talks to buy Automated Trading Desk, an electronic trading firm, for about $700m. The purchase of the firm could be announced this week, though details of the deal could still change.

The WSJ's Walter Mossberg tested Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone. The verdict is that, despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer. Its software, especially, sets a new bar for the smart-phone industry, and its clever finger-touch interface, which dispenses with a stylus and most buttons, works well, though it sometimes adds steps to common functions. The iPhone's most controversial feature, a virtual keyboard on the screen, turned out in tests to be a nonissue. But the iPhone has a major drawback: the cellphone network it uses. It only works with AT&T, won't come in models that use Verizon or Sprint and can't use the digital cards that would allow it to run on T-Mobile's network. So, the phone can be a poor choice unless you are in areas where AT&T's coverage is good. It does work overseas, but only via an AT&T roaming plan. In addition, even when you have great AT&T coverage, the iPhone can't run on AT&T's fastest cellular data network. Instead, it uses a pokey network called EDGE, which is far slower than the fastest networks from Verizon or Sprint that power many other smart phones. And the initial iPhone model cannot be upgraded to use the faster networks.

“Inside Track” section reports that Margaret C. Whitman, president and CEO of eBay (EBAY), made a deal of her own recently by selling more than $20m worth of her co's shares. Ms. Whitman, who hadn't sold any eBay stock in almost 4 years, did the transaction under a plan that provides for the sale of as many as 6.4m shares, valued at more than $200m at current prices, from this month to next Feb. "It's a routine part of prudent tax and estate planning as well as asset diversification," said eBay spokesman Hani Durzy.

Barron’s Online “Inside Scoop” section reports that during the 1Q, Tudor Investment had sold off its entire holdings of 2.42m Wendy’s (WEN) shares. Shortly after clearing its tray of shares, Tudor made a return visit, buying 5.33m shares, or a 6.1% stake, by June 13. The firm filed as a passive shareholder. Ben Silverman, of, says historical pricing suggests Tudor made 10-15% gains, give or take a few percentage points, from its previous investment in Wendy's.

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